I Used to Be Somebody: (Un)Retirement Lessons Learned

Subscribe to the podcast on
Apple Spotify or More

Robin Pajaro Interview: Former Chef Gets Her Groove Back!

Diana Landau | November 16, 2021

Carl interviews Robin Pajaro, a former head chef for Ritz Carlton, a private chef on yachts, a hypnotherapist, owner of Coco’s Cocktail Caravan and so much more. What’s important to know about Robin is she embraces change and is unafraid to try new endeavors—which is why she seems to be successful at whatever she sets out to do.
 
FUN FACT: Robin’s mother was the first Alice in Wonderland at Disneyland. She became Walt Disney’s stewardess on his private jet and was there when they found that Florida property. To learn more about some of Walt’s eccentricities and the secret Club 33, you'll have to listen to the podcast!
 
Robin grew up in Laguna Beach, an only child to a single mother. Her mother was a big exec at Kodak who loved to cook and entertain. “I really owe a lot to her for my love of cooking and entertaining,” Robin says, “she always included me in it. Cooking eventually became my passion and I took it a step further.” Robin says she was a rebellious, adventurous teen that managed to stay out of trouble. At age 19 in community college, she was in a serious car accident and lost her short-term memory for months. The struggle to get back to normal made her think, “Maybe there’s something bigger out there for me.”
 
She jumped at an opportunity to go to South Africa for 3 months. “It was a special time (in South Africa),” she says. “Nelson Mandela had just been released from prison and it was great to see all the change happen.”  Three years later, after backpacking all over the continent with friends, Robin took a job in Boston aboard a private yacht with the hopes of attending culinary school. “I just winged it,” she laughs. She says the family was very kind and the job was fun. Then she attended culinary school in Pasadena, closer to home.
 
Robin interned for Ritz Carlton and eventually became head chef at their Laguna Niguel property. It was the 1990’s, the pay was not so great and the field was entirely male-dominated. She worked hard to be respected and tells us she felt like a pioneer for women in her industry. Later, when she met her husband, she left the chef-world to become a mother, raising two daughters. But she never really stopped working, trying on completely new ventures—including a time as a certified hypnotherapist, adolescent alcohol and drug counselor, competing in a triathlon, even a stint as pastry chef at a doggie bakery.
 
While working at the doggie bakery, she re-discovered her passion for cooking. “Doing that creative work again and having full control of it really reminded me how much I loved cooking. I asked, "Now that I have my passion back, what do I want to do?” She became interested in mobile-entertaining and the possibility of working with so many different kinds of people intrigued her. Robin and her husband found a gutted out 1970’s retro trailer and after some remodeling and planning launched “Coco’s Cocktail Caravan.” “I love this business, seeing people’s faces light up. And it’s so much fun—we’ve done Barks & Brews for a good cause, weddings, business openings, even a disco party!”
 
 Robin’s (Un)retirement Tips:
  • “Figure out what you don't want to do, that’s half the trouble.” 
  • “Finding your passion (or rediscovering it in some way, like I did), and being 100% confident in your expertise, you can’t fail. Just take the leap!”
  • “When you're in your joy, your bliss --and making money too, what more do you want?!”

• Learn more about Robin Pajaro
• Sponsored by LoveMyHeartStudy.com
• Sponsored by Capital Advantage
Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Pickleball Media. After 15 years in corporate marketing, in 2012 she pivoted to write and wrangle content for Niche Media's weekly blog. She now manages the “I Used to Be Somebody” weekly blog.
Tags:    blog   unretirement   robin pajaro   chef   hypnotherapy   embracing change   passions  

Patrick Mulvaney Interview: It Really Is A Wonderful Life!

Diana Landau | June 29, 2021

 
In the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life” George Bailey learns that his family business, Bailey Bros. Building and Loan, is so much more than a business. It's about the bonds they created to hold the community together. Patrick Mulvaney, award-winning chef, leader of the Farm-to Fork movement in Northern California and a local hero for his non-profit programs, was inspired by this sentiment and named his restaurant Mulvaney’s B&L. Patrick and his wife Bobbin have a successful restaurant business--- and have taken it to a whole new level of community service.

Although Patrick calls his restaurant a “shanty Irish joint” it is elevated dining using the freshest ingredients. Patrick and Bobbin believe the world can be a better place through their restaurant. They have cultivated relationships with local farmers, developed programs like Great Plates to feed hungry people in need and during the pandemic they were a vital part of a region-wide program, Family Meal Sacramento, making meals for over 100,000 families. California Governor Gavin Newsom observed the program and pledged to take it statewide during the pandemic.

Patrick’s grandparents on both sides immigrated to the U.S from Ireland. He grew up in New York with a lawyer father and an English professor mother. Then he found his true calling by working in kitchens and the rest is history! He had the opportunity to apprentice with a chef in Ireland. “I was fired 6 times in 9 months!” he says.

Patrick worked at Rockaway Beach in Queens for a time, and it was there he learned the powerful connectivity between a restaurant and the community.  “It’s a place to help the community become stronger, to become engaged, and it’s also a pathway to making your voice heard to decision makers.” Patrick then worked his way up the ladder at Metropolis in NYC under Leslie Revsin. During grad school at UC Davis, he saw a 12-month growing season and winemaking and knew he wanted to open his own restaurant in Sacramento, which he did in 2006.

 “It gets back to what I learned in Ireland—where does your food come from? Do you know the farmers? Sacramento felt like home.” Now he is one of the lead innovators of the Farm-to-Fork movement, bringing farmers and chefs together in a big way. “It’s given something to Sacramento that the people can be proud of.”

Patrick and Bobbin also started the I Got Your Back Project, a mental health program and education for restaurant employees, after there were several suicides in the local restaurant community. “Restaurant work can be fast-paced, stressful and nocturnal. It requires thick skin and talent, not a college degree.” The program is now helping people every day.

What’s next? Patrick is still doing what he loves to do, wishing maybe he had a little more quiet time to cook. But he’s also taking the time to think about and reflect on what he wants to accomplish in his third act, whether it’s more involvement in advocacy, mental health, food insecurity or all three. We know he will keep making the world a better place!

Patrick’s (Un) Retirement Wisdom for Second Acts:

“Keep your eyes open and be enthusiastic in whatever it is you're doing, knowing that it might not be a direct path to doing (exactly) what you want to do. But know the experience will eventually help you in some way. When you meet someone, you never know what it is they can teach you, or how they might lift you up!”
 

 

 
Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Pickleball Media. After 15 years in corporate marketing, in 2012 she pivoted to write and wrangle content for Niche Media's weekly blog. She now manages the “I Used to Be Somebody” weekly blog.
 

 

Tags:    blog   interview   patrick mulvaney   farm to table   chef   restaurateur   nonprofit   community   food   mental health